Australian Market Report of July 21: More Upbeat Financial Results

US stocks continued to its gaining steak overnight inspired by improve earnings from major companies and economic data suggesting the worst of recession is over. The market was also boosted by the news that the troubled lender CIT may avoid bankruptcy with a lifeline from bondholders.

The Australian market closed firmer yesterday on stronger commodities prices and good leads from overseas markets. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index rose 49.5 points, or 1.24 per cent, at 4050.3 points, while the broader All Ordinaries index gained 51.3 points, or 1.28 per cent, to 4044.2 points.

Key Economic Facts and Figures

The Bureau of Statistics' producer price index (PPI), which measures business inflation, showed that prices had plunged 0.8 per cent in the June quarter after a 0.4 per cent fall in the March quarter. Economists anticipated the CPI figures for the June quarter to show a mild reading of 0.5 per cent.

Today the Reserve Bank of Australia publishes minutes of its July 7 monetary policy board meeting. The Australian Bureau of Statistics releases new motor vehicles sales data for June.

M&A News

Dioro Exploration (ASX:DIO) is in talks with Canadian copper and gold miner Northgate Minerals Corporation (TSE:NGX) about a potentially superior transaction to the hostile Avoca Resources (ASX:AVO) takeover bid. Dioro said it expected to announce details of a proposed transaction with the Toronto Stock Exchange-listed company within a week. Monday Avoca extended its offer for Dioro for a week until July 28.

Important Corporate News

Uranium miner Energy Resources of Australia (ASX:ERA) forecasts its first-half unaudited net earnings in the range of A$120 million to A$130 million. This will be up more than three times from the A$38.9 million in the corresponding period in the previous year.

Centrex Metals Limited (ASX:CXM) and China's Wuhan Iron & Steel (Group) Corporation (WISCO) have signed a series of formal transaction agreements that formalise the terms and conditions of the magnetite joint venture between the groups. WISCO will pay Centrex a total of up to A$186 million for a 60% equity in the joint venture.

Waste management company Transpacific Industries Group (ASX:TPI) has raised about A$560 million from the institutional component of its share entitlement offer.

Grain trader AWB Limited (ASX:AWB) requested a trading halt late yesterday, pending an announcement today or tomorrow on its Brazilian operations and the impact on full-year result expectations. AWB in May sacked the management of its Brazil operations and launched an investigation of accounting errors.

Leighton Holdings Ltd. (ASX:LEI) said Tuesday that one of its joint ventures has won a A$410 million Hong Kong sewage tunneling project. Leighton Asia in joint venture with Leonhard Nilsen & Sonner has been awarded the contract by the Hong Kong Drainage Service Department for the construction of a sewage conveyance system from Aberdeen to Sai Ying Pun on Hong Kong Island.

Skycity Entertainment Group (ASX:SKC) says that it expects to exceed consensus market expectations for net profit after tax (NPAT) for the 2009 financial year due to improved fourth quarter revenues and earnings across its core casino operations. Skycity's revised expectation for NPAT for 2009 is in the range of A$113 million to A$116 million.


Michelle Liang
Asia Business News Asia Bureau
Tel: +61-2-9247-4344


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